Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Absurdity in Advertising: The New Advertising Mantra?

Sabyasachi Ghosh & Yatindra Vijayvargiya | FMS, Delhi
Remember the last time you watched a potato wafers advertisement? Which one of them do you remember the most? Is it Lays, Uncle Chips or Bingo? An astonishing 90% of the respondent to this question confirmed Bingo. Welcome to the world of Absurdity in Advertisement.

Absurdity in advertisement is the new advertising mantra that has been practiced for long in the west but has now found its presence in Indian ad space. Absurdity has not only been able to capture eye balls during the commercial, but also has led to the Top of the Mind (TOM) recall of the product. This form of advertisement is very much beneficial and effective in introduction of a new product in a cluttered market space. Any marketing mix can either play around its Product, Price and Place or rely on promotion if it is similar to competitors on the other three parameters. Promotion is the key and absurdity in advertisement is the differentiator. But will it work always? We will take a deeper look into it.

Today, the influence of absurdity is not only bound to the limits of advertisement, but also extends to cinemas. Absurd advertisements create ambiguity by juxtaposing incongruous visual and verbal elements in sometimes humorous vignettes. By its nature, absurdity can be humorous or perhaps even pernicious and sinister. Absurdity can emerge from many illogical relationships that may result from the use of surrealism, anthropomorphism, allegory, humor and hyperbole.

Absurdity in advertisement is mainly defined in 4 ways:
a) Surrealism
b) Anthropomorphism
c) Allegory
d) Hyperbole

Each of these avenues has been exploited successfully by the advertisers. Whether it is the use of mix of animation and reality in the Sunfeast ads by ITC that made good use of surrealism or be it the Mr. Moneywiz of Moneycontrol.com that uses Anthropomorphism to connect a human with non-human.

The Hutch and later Vodafone pug and even the latest Zoozoos are a classic example of how allegory was used to convey a message.

Hyperbole, gross exaggeration to put across a point, has been the signature advertising campaign of brands like Happydent.

While gathering attention is the prime reason for this format of advertisement, it may also be a good way to send a reminder to the consumer that the brand still exists!
One conclusion that can be mistakenly drawn from all the above given statements is that absurdity is a sure shot success formula for marketing any product which is to be introduced in a cluttered market segment. Care should be taken to not reach this conclusion.

Absurdity works best for low involvement products but should not be attempted for high involvement products. Low involvement products are basically top of the mind recall products and the customer is usually not very involved with the brand and is not expected to make huge investment either in terms of time or money to acquire the product. Absurdity in advertisement cannot be used for products demanding high involvement because of these products are bought after a thorough analysis and are sold mainly based on the features and not an appealing advertisement.

Absurdity has been instrumental in creating “brand recall” for new products like Bingo wafers and Happydent chewing gums in their respective cluttered markets.Absurdity is a boon for the advertisers when there is repositioning, change in the mood of the brand, when nothing rational needs to be conveyed or simply to entertain consumers.

The Way forward
The way forward for absurdity in advertisement is bright. With the increased competition in various categories like confectionaries, snacks, beverages and cookies, we can expect absurd advertisements to create a good market for products in these highly competitive markets. Absurdity in advertisement is definitely the new age mantra for the advertisers and is expected to open new avenues of creating brand awareness and product recall, making the job of advertisers way easier.

No comments:

Post a Comment